Foods as obscure as garlic or mushrooms could be stopping you losing weight or fighting off skin or sinus problems.

Linsey Wynton tries out a new food intolerance test and wonders whether it is worthwhile.

Have you ever wondered if the foods and drinks you consume could be causing you problems?

For years I have suffered from eczema, hay fever, migraines and sinus problems. I have tried all sorts of remedies in a bid to beat these afflictions, but the steroid creams and inhalers I have been prescribed have done me little good, as have the homoepathic potions I have tried.

So, when I heard about a new food intolerance test called Alcat, I decided to try it.

The test, which was developed in America, can identify food stuff that can, apparently, exacerbate problems from skin and sinus complaints to panic attacks and even diabetes and arthritis. It can also help people who want to lose weight to identify foods which will inhibit them from doing so.

The test has recently been offered by a Brighton health and beauty salon, Saks, at the David Lloyd Club at Brighton Marina. Director Mark Woolley explained: "Some people can try all the cures in the world for particular problems and it can come down to one food they eat, like tomatoes.

"As well as helping with particular health problems, the test can help people boost their energy levels as some foods can make them feel lethargic."

The test claims to be the only one of its kind to be validated by independent scientific studies. It involves a consultation focusing on health problems and a blood test which is later sent off to a laboratory to be analysed.

At the laboratory, the blood is dispensed into separate vials containing samples of individual food stuffs including cod, grape fruit and barley. These are incubated to mimic the conditions in the body. The instruments then measure the effects of the various foods on the blood.

The results are returned within two weeks and, during a further consultation, a a therapist explains which foods should be avoided.

The only problem is that the test costs £250, meaning you need to be well-off or desperate to try it.

My consultation was with senior therapist Becky Anderson. She told me the most common problems clients had come forward with so far were irritable bowel syndrome and difficulties losing weight.

She stressed that the test did not measure food allergies, such as peanut allergy or lactose intolerance, which generally have more obvious symptoms than intolerances. She explained: "With allergies you get reactions almost immediately, like a rash or a swollen throat. Intolerances take place more internally in the body, at a slower pace, and it can be difficult to identify the food group causing them."

Foods I had a severe reaction to would need to be cut out for six months, those I had a medium reaction to would need to be cut out for three months, and those I had a mild reaction to would need to be stopped for six weeks. I would also need to cut out alcohol for at least six weeks to detoxify my body.

By reintroducing the foods one at a time, I would see if any of my ailments which may have gone, re-emerged. I could then conclude which food or foods were causing me problems.

After filling out a form about my health, I had a blood sample taken by nurse Louise Amery. Two weeks later, it was time to pick up my results. I was not prepared for what I got: I appeared to be intolerant to 39 different foods, with a severe intolerance to rice and tea and a medium intolerance to potatoes, brewer's yeast and baker's yeast.

I was shocked because, not only do I consume these things regularly, cutting them out would be a nightmare: it would not be easy to live without bread, rice and potatoes for at least three months. Becky said many people's results were not as bad as mine, but unexpected things often do come up. "You have to be careful because some of the foods you may have an intolerance to will be an ingredient in other products. For example, garlic is found in chewing gum and ice cream."

Although Alcat do provide a suggested menu for different days of the week, in order to ensure you have a balanced diet, I know that if I was to stick to the results rigidly, I would not be able to eat out or cook many of my favourite meals.

In addition, Becky warned that after you cut out foods you are used to, you can suffer from a blocked nose, backache and headaches for up to a week as your body gets used to the changes.

Although I will try to cut back on some of the foods and drinks the tests recommends I cut out, I would rather have my old ailments than new eating problems.

For more details about the Alcat Test call Saks on 01273 666426.